Henry Lewis III began his tenure as interim president on a good note. After receiving net checks on time, and seeing construction take place throughout campus, he seemed to be in everyone’s good graces.
However, that has fluctuated as of late. Lewis and the FAMU administration are being held responsible for inviting Gov. Jeb Bush to speak at the FAMU commencement ceremony. In doing so, they have shown carelessness by not thinking of the students first.
Taken, Gov. Bush is invited to speak at most graduating ceremonies at universities throughout Florida. The history between Bush and this graduating class is not a pleasant one.
This same graduating class staged an all-night sit-in two years ago protesting Bush’s “One Florida Initiative.” The reward they received for their protest was Bush implementing the initiative anyway.
These are the students who went to Gov. Bush to demand better security after Michael Lombardi set of two bombs on FAMU’s campus in the fall of 1999.
Also, this graduating class protested FAMU becoming a Tier 3 school.
FAMU being a Tier 3 may deny FAMU funding and means they may be less likely to recruit the top students in the country. Gov. Bush did not object to FAMU obtaining this deplorable title.
There is no love between the two entities.
Interim President Henry Lewis said in a prepared statement that, “FAMU has a history of inviting ranking political figures to speak at the spring commencement ceremonies. We thought it was time to invite the highest ranking political figure in the state of Florida.”
Under normal circumstances, that would have been fine.
However, why would you invite this particular political figure to speak to this particular graduating class? Is it that he did not know about the existing tension?
Student Government Association president and graduating senior Andrew Gillum expressed his discontent with the situation.
“We would not want to ruin the dignity of this celebrated moment with protest signs, but if the governor does decide to speak at our commencement ceremony the students will turn their seats and their backs to him during the address.”
The action seems to be befitting. The same man who showed no regard for these students in the spring of 2000 deserves little respect should he decide to speak to the same students.
This situation began with administration so they are the ones who deserve the blame.
They overlooked the student’s point of view and best interest by inviting Gov. Bush.
Commencement exercises are set to take place on April 26th.
Obviously, Lewis will be speaking, with the possibility of Gov. Bush.
Because of the atmosphere, you might think of a boxing match on pay-per-view, Lewis and the students being the preliminary bout. No doubt the graduating class is upset being that Lewis was the one who made the call on the invitation.
Bush and the graduating class will be the main event. I believe that will be a front row seat worth paying for.
-Antione Davis for the Editorial Board.